On March 21, Google banned several apps developed by the Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo after detecting malicious behavior from them. These apps were flagged as malware and were reported to have tracked users who had installed them on their devices.
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Google sent a notification to all the users who had installed these apps and asked them to remove them immediately. This came after multiple Chinese security researchers revealed that Pinduoduo was building an Android app that could monitor users’ activity.
Ed Fernandez, a Google spokesperson, mentioned “off-play versions of this app that have been enforced via Google Play Protect.” For those unaware, “off-play” apps refer to Android apps that are not available on the Play Store but are still accessible to users and can be downloaded via apk. He added that the official app of Pinduoduo was suspended “for security concerns while we continue our investigation.”
Google Bans Chinese apps
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Googl e has taken action against Chinese apps as Pinduoduo is a major ecommerce company in China which has 800 million active users across its various apps. The company is credited for popularizing the social commerce model, where users buy products while using a social media platform without ever having to leave the app. Apps like these need to customize the app experience in order to maximize user spending their time and to increase their chances of buying something.
Accusations around Pinduoduo rose a few weeks ago when some cybersecurity researchers revealed the presence of a back-door, which allowed the apps to track and monitor the user and their behavior even outside the app usage.
“Google Play has informed us this morning that the Pinduoduo App has been temporarily suspended as the current version is not compliant with Goo,gle’s Policy, but has not shared more details,” a Pinduoduo spokesperson said, confirming the bans.